PropertyTax assessment notices in mail next week

Posted By MARLENE BERGSMASTANDARD STAFF

Property values in St. Catharines are up about 19 per cent, but the tax pain you’ll feel depends on whether your property goes up more than the average.

Homeowners in Niagara will begin receiving their new tax assessment notices next week, and in St. Catharines, at least, the average increase is close to the provincial average of 20 per cent.

The new assessment will be based on the market value of the property on Jan. 1, 2008. The previous assessment was based on the market value on Jan. 1, 2005.

The province froze property values in 2006 and then imposed an overhaul on the assessment system, including a new four-year phase-in of any increases.

The homeowners who will be hardest hit by any increases in city spending will be those whose home values increased more than the municipal average.

If your home’s value increases 30 per cent — about 10 percentage points more than the St. Catharines average — you will face a tax increase of at least 2.5 per cent a year over the next four years, and that’s if the city’s spending doesn’t go up.

If St. Catharines councillors increase spending, which they have done every year for at least a decade, your greater-than- average assessment increase will be compounded by any spending hike.

City administrator Colin Briggs said city staff were given advance notice of the St. Catharines situation this week, but he doesn’t know how St. Catharines’ average increase compares with values in Niagara’s 11 other municipalities.

In the previous re-assessment, values in Welland and Port Colborne lagged behind values in hot real estate markets such as Grimsby, Lincoln, St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Briggs said, which means taxpayers in Welland and Port Colborne paid a smaller share of the regional tax pie, while taxpayers elsewhere paid more.

He expects similar disparities this time around.

When the notices begin arriving next week, each property owner will be given a password to use on the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. website. The website will give detailed information about your property, and allow you to compare your property with up to 24 additional properties, and up to six more selected by MPAC.

The “About My Property” link can be reached through the MPAC website at www.mpac.ca

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